This is crawfish in the key of cream and cognac. The other flavors can vary slightly but since thyme is the default herb of south Louisiana that’s what I usually use. If you’re looking for a change of pace you can wake up the flavor a bit by dropping in a spray of tarragon while it’s cooking and then removing it before serving.
First you chop and saute the leeks and garlic, then you make a roux as described below. I usually do it all in the same pan but for the purposes of illustration I did it here in two pans so you can see how the roux should look. It’s cooked just enough for everything to be combined but it needs to stay pale.
The amount of shelled crawfish depends on you. It should have at least one cup if you are using this as a sauce over fish (as pictured here), or up to two cups if you are shooting for something more filling. Two cups is about what you’ll find in those pre-shelled frozen plastic bags of crawfish. Use that and the dish will clock in as faster than the hamburger drive thru. If you are using crawfish in the shell buy at least a pound, do a quick boil and shell before adding to the sauce. Although this recipe is quick to prepare it does need time on the back end for the flavors to develop, so when it’s done move it off the burner, cover and let it sit for a bit.
- 5 Tbs. butter
- ⅓ cup diced green onions (or leeks)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbs. flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup half & half
- 1 cup crawfish tails
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme (or ½ tsp. thyme)
- 1 Tbs. Cognac
- 1 Tbs. dry Vermouth (or white wine)
- 3 Tbs. finely minced parsley
- Melt butter over very low heat and add onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. This is the roux and it should stay pale.
- Slowly add the half and half and tomato paste.
- Add the remaining ingredients and let cook, stirring constantly, on low for about 10. Take it off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes so that the flavors can develop.
- Remove bay leaf.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
This can be served over pasta, in a puff pastry shell, or over a grilled fish as a sauce.
Some versions of this recipe call for no alcohol (which is also good) and some call for much more. This is a very quick cooking dish so I opt for less cognac and vermouth. It doesn't really have much time to cook off the liquor so if you add too much it tastes harsh.